Australia’s Illicit Vape Black Market

AUS | Over the past three months, more than 90,000 Australian adults have taken up vaping, bringing the total number of adult vapers to 1,723,000, according to recent data from Roy Morgan.

A survey commissioned by the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) revealed a significant uptick in vaping adoption, with nearly 400,000 Australians taking up vaping between December 2022 and December 2023, marking a notable 30 percent increase year-on-year.

Nationwide, adult vaping figures have surged by 349 percent over the past five years. New South Wales has witnessed the most substantial growth, exceeding 470 percent, equating to over half a million adults embracing vaping since December 2019.

Victoria and Western Australia have experienced respective increases of 355 per cent and 329 per cent in adult vaping rates during the same period, as per the Roy Morgan data.

In a surprising turn, despite having the smallest population, Tasmania recorded a remarkable 322 percent surge in adult vaping numbers.

Theo Foukkare, CEO of AACS, said he was concerned over the growing black market for nicotine vapes in Australia, attributing its inception and strength to the stringent regulations imposed by the Albanese Government.

Foukkare criticised the government’s requirement for adults to obtain a prescription and pay a substantial fee of $150 to access legal vaping products from pharmacies, arguing that such policies exacerbate the proliferation of unregulated vapes in the black market.

The majority of vapers resort to purchasing from illicit sources due to the financial strain imposed by the regulatory hurdles, leading to an influx of approximately 120 million unregulated illegal vapes annually.

Foukkare highlighted the flawed nature of the new laws, citing the government’s own projections indicating a surge in doctor’s appointments, resulting in added strain on the healthcare system and significant costs to Medicare.

Foukkare wants to see regulatory measures akin to those governing tobacco and alcohol. He advocates for licensed, responsible retailers to oversee the sale of nicotine vapes, ensuring adherence to strict legislative standards concerning nicotine levels, ingredients, flavours, and packaging.

Such regulations are essential to curb the demand for black-market products and ensure consumer safety.

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